Betty Dukes took Walmart to court in gender bias lawsuit
The Walmart greeter who took the retail giant all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the largest gender bias class-action lawsuit in U.S. history has died, a family member said Tuesday.
Betty Dukes died July 10 at her home in Antioch, California, said her niece, Rita Roland. Dukes was 67.
“She was a very tough lady, very driven and passionate about what she believed in. She was persuasive. She just didn’t want to tell her point, she wanted you to have an understanding so you could come to the same conclusions that she had,” Roland said.
As the lead plaintiff in Dukes v. Walmart, she alleged in the 2001 lawsuit that the company violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, creed or gender.
Dukes said Walmart systemically paid women less than male counterparts and promoted men to higher positions at faster rates than women. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, where it was dismissed. But Roland said the dismissal was not in vain for her aunt.
“The one thing I do know is the work that she did is fluid. It has not stopped,” said the Milpitas woman who often travelled with Dukes when she was working on the case. “She was one of many voices fighting for the same cause.”
An ordained minister, Dukes’ faith was the foundation for everything she did, including taking on the retail giant, Roland said.
“She believed in helping people,” Roland said.
In her off time, Dukes helped organize community banquets with speakers celebrating Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month and the election of President Barack Obama.